Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Curry Chicken Tenders Make a Great Sandwich

I decided to get straight to the point in my title. It’s been a long while since I’ve reviewed any Trader Joe’s gluten free offerings. We were looking for something new and exciting on a recent trip to Trader Joe’s. That’s one of the cool things about them. When you’re in a Trader Joe’s, you can stop about anywhere, spend a minute or two checking out everything around you, and find something new and interesting to try. I was in the meat department, looking at chicken parts, and this particular item demanded to be tried. They’re Curry Chicken Tenders. And they have the Trader Joe’s “No Gluten Ingredients Used” mark on them.

Trader Joe's Curry Chicken Tenders

The only instructions they include with these amounts to: “Grill them.” Here are the ingredients: Water, Curry Powder (Turmeric, White Pepper, Ginger, Mustard Powder), Garlic, Sugar, Salt, Coriander, Dessicated Coconut, Citric Acid, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper, Onion Powder, Cumin, Cilantro, Sodium Lactate (for PH control). As can usually be expected with Trader Joe’s products, this all looks pretty straight-forward (except for the last ingredient) – until you notice how high on this list the salt appears.

Gluten Free Curried Chicken

Of course, I didn’t notice this fact until it was too late. I do a lot of complaining about the salt content in Trader Joe’s products, but these are really off the charts. A serving size of 4 oz of chicken has 850mg (!!!!) of sodium. That’s ridiculous. It’s like eating a salt lick. Really.

Trader Joe's gluten free curried chicken

Which we didn’t realize until I had served up the curry chicken tenders. I served them up with some broccoli, squash, and yogurt on the side. I love curry with yogurt. Another thing that goes great with curries is dried cranberries. You should try it sometime. Unfortunately, this dish just plain did not work. Mostly because of the salt I just mentioned. We also both felt that this dish is a little heavy on the cardamom. I really love cardamom, but in a curry I don’t usually want it to be the main flavor. It wasn’t inedible. But it wasn’t something we would want to eat again. We ended up with a bunch of leftover chicken from this, sitting in the fridge.

Gluten free curried chicken sandwich

I would love to take the credit for this amazing idea, but actually Sienna came up with it. Why not try the curried chicken in a sandwich? So here you have it. Gluten-free bread, mayonnaise, pieces of lettuce, red onion, and slices of the curried chicken tenders. This, my friends, is a good sandwich! Did I mention that the chicken comes out amazingly tender? It does. Must be like, practically brined. But we both totally recommend this for sandwiches.

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Whole Grain Drink Non-Dairy Milk

I’ve been debating whether or not to cover this item. It’s not like there aren’t already a whole lot of gluten-free milk options in the world! At the same time, there are a lot of people who can’t (or won’t) drink cow’s milk, and who might be allergic to soy milk. This leaves some less-than-exciting options like rice milk, hemp milk, or making your own almond milk. This milk has millet, amaranth, and quinoa, which is interesting. When we first saw this item, we thought that it sounded like a good idea, and we decided to give a try.

Here are the ingredients for the unsweetened variety:

Filtered Water, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Inulin, Organic Expeller Pressed Canola and/or Organic Expeller Pressed Safflower Oil, Organic Tapioca Starch, Sea Salt, Organic Vanilla Extract, Vitamin Mineral Pre-Mix (Tricalcium Phosphate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Ergocalciferol [Vitamin D2], Cyanocobalamin [Vitamin B12]), Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Carrageenan, Organic Amaranth, Organic Millet, Organic Quinoa.

And here is the sweetened variety:

Filtered Water, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Inulin, Organic Expeller Pressed Canola and/or Organic Expeller Pressed Safflower Oil, Organic Brown Rice Syrup Solids, Sea Salt, Organic Vanilla Extract, Vitamin Mineral Pre-Mix (Tricalcium Phosphate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Ergocalciferol [Vitamin D2], Cyanocobalamin [Vitamin B12]), Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Carrageenan, Organic Amaranth, Organic Millet, Organic Quinoa.

The main difference between the two is that the sweetened one has evaporated cane juice and brown rice syrup solids. The unsweetened has tapioca starch. Those of you who are used to reading ingredients will be struck by two things: 1) The presence of amaranth, millet, and quinoa at the very bottom of the list means that they don’t really make up any real part of the milk and are more there as flavors at best. And 2) What the heck is inulin?

Inulin is a food additive that has been gaining popularity. It’s a naturally-occurring fiber that tastes sweet, but that isn’t digested. There are a lot of health claims about inulin, mostly having to do with stomach bacteria. Because we can’t digest the stuff, our stomach bacteria does it instead. Some say this is good. Others aren’t so excited. The Wikipedia page on inulin has good information on it, as does this page – Inulin: Friend or Foe? I don’t know enough about this stuff to be an expert, but I’m one of those people who distrust artificial sweeteners. At the same time, inulin is naturally occurring and can be found in onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, agave, and a number of other plants.

As you can see from the photo, the milk has that more watery sort of consistency that rice milk has. By now you’re probably all wondering how the milk tastes. I thought it was OK. When you look at the ingredients, you see that it’s basically fortified rice milk with a bunch of stuff thrown in and a strange indigestible sweetener. Those of you who are used to unsweetened non-dairy milks will find that both versions are rather sweet. I’m thinking that this is because of the inulin. In fact, I bought a carton of both and although I didn’t exactly perform a taste test on them, I remember thinking that I would have trouble telling which one is which by gauging the sweetness.

What it tastes the most like, to me, is millet. If you enjoy that nutty-corny taste that millet has, you might like this milk. It certainly doesn’t taste bad, and as I mentioned at the beginning of the article, it does offer a bit more variety in the non-dairy milk category. I wish that I felt strongly one way or the other, but instead I was left with the impression that some people might like it. I didn’t really like it enough to switch from my usual milk of choice.

I would love to hear from anybody out there who gave this milk a try. And also, what you think of inulin, if anybody out there has a strong opinion, let us know what you think in the comments!

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate

(Quick side note: This product is only available at Trader Joe’s during the holidays, which is terrible! Our local Trader Joe’s is out of it and they say that they won’t have any until next year.) OK OK I know it’s not exactly what you call a “breakthrough gluten-free product.” I mean chocolate is one of those things that is naturally gluten-free like a steak or a baked potato. At the same time, it’s sipping chocolate (yeah!) and it’s also now Sienna’s 3 PM snack at work. We got tipped off to the Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate by a reader, Lynne. Thanks Lynne!

Here are the ingredients: Cocoa Powder, Cane Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter. A nice short list. Their allergen disclaimer for this product reads: “Made on equipment shared with milk and soy.” The can says a serving is 3 tablespoons, which is 90 calories, 30 mg of sodium, and also contains a whopping 23% of your recommended daily allowance of dietary fiber. Of the 28 grams that make up a serving, 15 grams of that is sugars.

Of course, if you want some hot chocolate, you’re probably not going to fret about the sugar much, are you? Then on the other side of the can are two recipes. One is for making hot chocolate, and the other is to make sipping chocolate. To make hot chocolate, you stir 3 tablespoons of mix into 3/4 cup of hot milk. To make the sipping chocolate, you stir 3 tablespoons of mix into 1/3 cup of hot milk.

Check out the chocolate left on our whisk. That’s thick! We tried the hot chocolate recipe first, and I wasn’t into it. For better or for worse, I like my hot chocolate with more sugar and milk, so the proportions were wrong for me. Sienna likes it that way, though. She doesn’t adjust it at all.

Here is the pour. It’s like we’re pouring molten steel to make hammers or something. (No we’re not. That’s sipping chocolate.)

Here is the finished chocolate drink. It almost tastes like someone melted down a chocolate bar. It’s very thick and really delicious. As the name would imply, it is for sipping, and I think most people are not going to want to drink very much of it in one go. I like it with a palate cleanser like some hot tea or a glass of milk. Little bit of chocolate. Little bit of tea.

One thing that they don’t mention on the tin, but most professional hot chocolate brewers will already know, is that you can’t just stir the mix into some hot milk. If you do it that way you end up with lumps. To make it without lumps, you first stir up the mix with a little bit of hot milk or hot water (maybe a tablespoon or so). Then you mix that up into a paste. Once it’s consistent, then you can add it to hot milk and it will all dissolve uniformly.

This post was originally intended as a companion piece for our review of the Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Brownie Mix, which we love!

We want to know: It seems like sipping chocolate is kind of a new thing. Does anybody out there have a favorite place to get it? Is there anywhere in Portland Oregon to get sipping chocolate? Let us know in the comments.

Times we have visited: 3+ (so we feel confident about our score.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: The same

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Brownie Mix

Chocolate! That’s what we’re talking about here. We’ve been making the Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Brownie Mix for almost a year now and recently it came to my attention that we haven’t ever reviewed it on this site. This mix is really awesome. We don’t make it exactly how the package says you should, though, so I’m going to provide details about what we do.

Trader Joe's Gluten-Free Brownie Mix

The brownie mix is free of wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, soy, and corn, which is cool because that takes care of quite a few common allergy foods. Of course, it has chocolate, but that’s the point! Here is a list of ingredients: Organic Evaporated Cane Juice (sugar), Sweet Brown Rice Flour, Cocoa (processed with alkali), Tapioca Flour, Arrowroot Flour, Sea Salt, Xanthan Gum. I always list the amount of sodium in the Trader Joe’s products I review. The package says that it makes 12 servings. Each serving has 125 mg of salt.

Trader Joes Gluten-free Brownie Mix

The recipe on the package calls for 1 egg, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and 1/4 cup water.

Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

We always put some of these awesome chips in our brownies. They’re the Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. Besides being delicious, they’re free of dairy, nuts, gluten, and soy, and are mini-chips. This makes them ideal for brownies.
As an egg substitute, you can add your own favorite (when we replace eggs, we use the Ener-G Food Egg Replacer because it is gluten-free.) We also replace half of the oil with some applesauce. This sounds kind of weird, considering you’re making brownies, but I think it really improves the brownies, and also the brownies are a lot more healthy. In case you’re wondering, it is possible to replace all the oil with applesauce and end up with edible brownies, but they definitely aren’t as delicious, and don’t seem to keep as well.

Ready to go!

One of the most important things about making brownies is to not overcook them. When you overcook brownies they end up rock hard when they’ve cooled off. It seems like the Trader Joe’s mix doesn’t suffer from this so much, which is cool. With a little bit of adjustment, this mix can also be used to make cookies. Instructions for these are on the package.

Finished Brownie

And here’s the reward. We have made these brownies and shared them with friends and family, and nobody has ever suspected that they are gluten-free. They’re awesome!

We want to know: Are there other gluten-free brownie mixes out there? Do you have any tricks or tips to make better brownies? Let us know in the comments.

Times we have visited: 8+ (so we feel confident about our score.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: About the same

Product Review: Pamela’s Gluten-Free Baking & Pancake Mix

We’re getting close to our one year anniversary of Gluten Free Portland dot Org, and a lot of our long-term readers will know by now that I love pancakes and am on a one-man search for the best gluten-free pancakes in the world. Right now, my preferred gluten-free pancakes are the Trader Joe’s frozen kind, which we reviewed here. We also tried the Trader Joe’s mix, reviewed here, but I liked the pre-made ones better, mostly because the mix doesn’t have much flavor. Over the year we’ve received a lot of comments from people that we should try Pamela’s Gluten-Free Baking & Pancake Mix. So we finally did it.

Pamela's Gluten-free Baking & Pancake Mix

If you have trouble getting Pamela’s mixes at your local store, you can get them on Amazon. Here’s a list of the ingredients: Brown Rice Flour; White Rice Flour; Cultured Buttermilk; Natural Almond Meal; Tapioca Starch; Sweet Rice Flour; Potato Starch; Grainless & Aluminum-Free Baking Powder (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Potato Starch); Baking Soda; Sea Salt; Xanthan Gum. Those of you who watch for allergens in ingredient lists will have caught the buttermilk and almond meal. Their cross-contamination statement states that this mix is manufactured on shared equipment that is also used with tree nuts, soy, eggs, and milk. Seeing as how we’re talking about the ingredients, their serving-size (two 4-inch pancakes) contains about 390 mg of sodium. That compares well to the frozen Trader Joe’s, which have 430 mg in a serving.

Mix it up

Making pancakes with this mix is ridiculously easy. Depending on the size of your skillet, it can be a good idea to pre-heat the skillet. You’ll want it hot enough that drops of water will sizzle, but not so hot that they jump. Put the Pamela’s gluten-free mix in a mixing bowl and add eggs, oil, and water. I also added a half teaspoon of vanilla. Obviously, you’ll want to add the water last, and do the thing where you add most of it in and then mix it up to make sure your mix doesn’t get too watery. Your mix should be wet enough that it pours, but thick enough that it’ll hold together when you pour it on the skillet.

gluten-free pancake!

It is in the very nature of pancakes that your first batch won’t be good. I always cook only one pancake first to make sure the temperature is right. If the skillet is too hot, the insides won’t cook. If it’s too cold, the outsides won’t brown properly and the pancakes will be dry.

Steaming Hot Pancakes

Gluten-free pancakes!

Gluten-Free Blueberry Pancakes!

I also made some blueberry pancakes. By now you’re probably like “Yes Yes Dave, but how did they taste?” I thought they were good. They cook up fluffy and moist. If someone were to cook them for me, I would eat them happily. Sienna didn’t like them much and said that they had a strange aftertaste. She said that they tasted like ashes. Maybe we were expecting them to be really amazing because of all the positive comments we’ve read. It’s pretty clear that this mix is rather popular with the gluten-free crowd. I would say that the Pamela’s mix is better than the Trader Joe’s gluten-free mix, but the finished pancakes aren’t as good as the Trader Joe’s frozen packaged pancakes.

Freeze them pancakes

Speaking of frozen pancakes, I like to make a large batch of pancakes and then freeze them to eat later. They reheat very well.

I think that, ultimately, if you miss pancakes and want to make some from a mix, I would recommend giving Pamela’s a try. From the disclosures on the package, it looks like there isn’t a chance of gluten cross-contamination, which is nice. The recipe is easy, and besides just pancakes, the package includes recipes and directions for making waffles, crepes, muffins, chocolate chip cookies, and also for breading chicken or fish. (For breading chicken and fish, we really love using garbanzo and fava bean flour with pepper and paprika – see our recipe here).

We’ve been having a lot of good luck using some of the various gluten-free flour mixes available on the Internet. Maybe it’s time for me to start looking for some.

We want to know: Do you have a favorite store-bought gluten-free baking mix? How about a flour mix or pancake recipe on the Internet? Send us a link. Let us know in the comments!

Times we have visited: 1 (So your mileage may vary.)
Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: about 45% more (based on prices of wheat-based mixes on Amazon)

Check out other Pamela’s Mixes on Amazon.

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Paneer Tikka Masala

I’m really happy that Trader Joe’s has gluten-free frozen Indian food. Lunch can be a pain to plan for and sometimes you need some packaged food intervention. As usual with Trader Joe’s the product has a longer name than our title bar can hold. This is really called Trader Joe’s Paneer Tikka Masala with Spinach Basmati Rice. It is gluten-free and vegetarian. Last week I reviewed Trader Joe’s gluten-free frozen Channa Masala and thought it was really good.

Paneer is a relatively soft Indian cheese. A tikka masala is generally a creamy red lightly spiced tomato sauce. Masala by itself simply denotes a mixture of spices, and often refers to something like a curry.

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Indian Food

The ingredient list is pretty long:

Paneer Tikka: Tomatoes (Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Citric Acid), Onions, Water, Cream, Paneer (Milk, Part Skim Milk, Vinegar, Salt), Canola Oil, Cashews, Spices, garlic, Salt, Ghee (Clarified Butter), Butter, Fenugreek leaves, Paprika Oleoresin, Turmeric, Cilantro, Milled Cane Sugar.
Spinach Pilaf: Water, Basmati Rice, Onions, Spinach, Carrots, Canola Oil, Spices, Garlic, Salt, Milled Cane Sugar, Turmeric.

The box contains one serving, which is 330 calories. 190 of those are from fat. The dish has an alarming 850 mg of salt. Luckily, I didn’t think it was so hot. I like Tikka Masala in general. There was an Indian pizza place in San Francisco and they would make a pizza that tastes a lit like the Trader Joe’s Tikka Masala, but was a lot better. What would I change? I would add less salt and more spices.

Like the Chana Masala, the Tikka Masala benefits from including something sweet like raisins or dried cranberries. It is vegetarian, gluten-free, and is easy to pack for work lunches. I just wish it was better.

We want to know: Do you have a favorite Indian restaurant in Portland? We still haven’t found one! Have you tried other Trader Joe’s Indian dishes? Do you get upset (like we do) that most of the Trader Joe’s asian cooking sauces aren’t gluten-free? Let us know in the comments!

Times we have visited: 1 (So your mileage may vary.)
Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Channa Masala

I’ve been slowly working my way through the Trader Joe’s gluten free offerings. I know that I should review the bad with the good, but some of the Trader Joe’s pre-packaged indian food is pretty hard to get excited about. Having eaten Indian food in San Francisco and Berkeley, I’m a total Indian food snob. Luckily, I’ve got a couple gluten-free items that I’ve found recently that I think are worth sharing. The first is their Channa Masala. It’s Indian food, so it’s got a lot of spices. My main theory about Indian food tends to be that the worse it looks, the better it’s going to taste. My other theory about Indian food is that these people have been vegetarian for so long, they really know how to do it right.

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Channa Masala

The ingredients: Onions, Tomatoes (Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Citric Acid), Chickpeas, Water, Canola Oil, Spices, Ghee (Clarified Butter [Milk]), Garlic, Salt, Cilantro, Mango Powder, Turmeric, Bay Leaves.

The box includes instructions on how to heat up and also the usual disclaimer about how the food is manufactured on shared equipment. One thing that’s nice about the disclaimer on this box is that they say “Our vendors follow good manufacturing practices to segregate ingredients to avoid cross contact with allergens.” I don’t know anybody else feels about it, but this eases my mind a little. I don’t have to picture equipment encrusted with flour and malt. The box has two servings. Each is 180 calories and 450 mg of salt.

The picture on the box shows it in a bowl, like it’s soup or something, but here’s how you’re really going to want to eat your gluten-free Channa Masala: Over some jasmine rice and something on the side to take the heat off. Good examples of items that will take the heat off are: yogurt, golden raisins, dried cranberries, or a good chutney. I like a good mango chutney. At Indian Oven on Fillmore in San Francisco, they had a chutney that was the hottest thing on the table, but most chutneys are sweet and flavorful. When you’re eating Channa Masala with yogurt or a chutney, you grab a bite of one or the other, or both at the same time, but you generally keep them separate. With the raisins or dried cranberries, you should mix them in. If you like cilantro, you can tear a little up with your fingers and mix that in too.

I really liked this Chana Masala. It’s got a lot of flavor, but doesn’t feel the need to make your mouth burn. It’s vegetarian, gluten-free, and makes for something that’s easy to pack for work lunches.

We want to know: Do you have a favorite Indian restaurant in Portland? We still haven’t found one! Have you tried other Trader Joe’s Indian dishes? Do you get upset (like we do) that most of the Trader Joe’s asian cooking sauces aren’t gluten-free? Let us know in the comments!

Times we have visited: 2 (So your mileage may vary.)
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

What’s for Dinner? Barbecued Chicken Thighs!

I have a confession to make. As a guy, I feel like there are certain things that come with the Y chromosome. Like, for instance, I don’t like to ask for directions when I’m obviously lost. Like many men I have to be beaten over the head with most things before I will notice them. Also, I think that there is certain knowledge that comes with having a Y chromosome. For instance, being able to fix a bicycle without instructions or how to grill anything. ANYTHING! Unfortunately, I learned recently that I am not exactly a barbecue expert, and as usual I found this out courtesy of Sunset Magazine.

Trader Joe's Gluten Free BBQ Sauce

Yes. Yes. I am saying that in the past I burned a lot of food on the grill, and for no good reason. Now let’s just put this behind us and get on to how to make these awesome chicken thighs the right way. First off, you’ll need some BBQ sauce. For this recipe I used the Trader Joe’s barbecue sauce which I reviewed here.

I’m sure there are other gluten-free barbecue sauces in the world. The problem is that a lot of BBQ sauces have smoke flavor as an ingredient and that’s an item that may or may not be gluten-free. So you should check with the manufacturer to see before assuming that they’re safe.

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs (or skinned & boned if you prefer)
8 tablespoons gluten-free barbecue sauce

That was simple. Now take your chicken and put it in a bowl with 6 tablespoons of the Trader Joe’s BBQ sauce. Mix them up and let the mixture “rest” for at least twenty minutes. Even better, put it in the fridge for a couple of hours. (If you’re using chicken thighs with the skins on, you’ll want to use a turkey baster to “inject” the sauce under the skins. If you don’t have a baster, the next best thing is to peel some of the skin back by hand and use a basting brush to brush some sauce in there.) Some people will tell you to rub the chicken with oil first but I don’t do that.

Now get some charcoal going. What you’ll want to do is pile the charcoal over on one end of your grill. Let the briquettes get properly hot but don’t let them go too far because we’re in for the long haul. First, put the thighs directly over the coals to sear them. Depending on how hot your coals are and how high the grill surface is, you’ll probably only want to leave them on for maybe 30 seconds. We just want to sear them so they have the nice grill marks on them. I’ll usually check one or two as they go and then flip them all when one is done. Grill both sides.

(As a side note, I don’t know if this is true exactly for chicken pieces, but for burgers you only want to flip them once on a grill. The reason is that you lose more of the juices every time you flip them. I tend to think the same is probably true with chicken so I try not to flip them too much. The problem with this is that if you leave them too long they’ll burn and that’s worse!)

Now once you have your thighs seared, move them over to the other side of the grill and close the lid. Give them at least 20 minutes over there, checking them every few minutes to make sure they aren’t burning. Since they’re far away from the coals they shouldn’t burn but it’s still good to check. If you have a meat thermometer, you’ll want to keep grilling them until the interior temperature of the thighs is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can check for doneness by selecting the thickest chunk of chicken and cutting it open. If it’s still pink in the middle you’ll need to cook them more.

Depending on the heat of the grill and the size of the chicken parts, you may need to grill them another 20 to 40 minutes. At two points during the grilling process, you’ll want to brush on the other two tablespoons of your Trader Joe’s gluten-free barbecue sauce.

One thing that’s nice about this way of cooking the thighs is that you can grill your veggies over the coals because the chicken is off to the side. Shown in the picture is squash from our garden, grilled with mushrooms and red bell pepper. To keep veggies from turning to cinders on a grill you use lots of olive oil and salt. For three cups of veggies I use 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. I don’t know how it works but it does. The veggies turn out awesome, too!

This review was done to be part of What’s for Dinner? Wednesday, hosted by Linda at Gluten-free Homemaker.

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce

Yes it’s gluten free! The full name of it is Bold and Smoky Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce. It also turns out that Trader Joe’s All Natural Barbecue Sauce is also gluten-free. Both of them, and that’s awesome.

Check out the photo below to see something else awesome that the Trader Joe’s near me is doing. See the little gluten-free signs on the shelves? It’s cool because you can literally walk through Trader Joe’s and see what is good to eat. Obviously, they don’t have it on everything, like say, nobody is going to be surprised to find that their organic strawberry jam is gluten-free. But they did have it on their spices, which is something that is a frequent question I think. (For the record, spices that do not have ingredients listed are safe because that means only the spice is present in the bottle.)

Trader Joe's Gluten-Free Barbecue Sauces

So let’s take a look at the ingredients: Tomato Puree (water, tomato paste), Sugar, molasses, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Spices, Onion Powder, Natural Hickory Smoke Flavor, Garlic Powder, Caramel Color, Natural Flavor. It does have the standard warning about being made on equipment that is shared with wheat, soy, eggs, and peanuts. Some of you might have had warning lights go on about the Caramel Color in the list, but in the US they generally don’t make that with wheat. The other suspect ingredient is the smoke flavor. Smoke flavor may involve gluten and thus it is wise to contact a manufacturer if you’re not sure.

Trader Joe’s figures that a serving size is two tablespoons and you’ll get 60 calories out of that (all of which is basically sugar because it’s fat free) and 420 mg of salt. We were happy to find a BBQ sauce where the first ingredient wasn’t some kind of sugar, and especially happy that the form of sugar in the ingredients was just sugar and not high fructose corn syrup. To do a taste-test we decided to grill up some chicken thighs (recipe is coming soon) and we really liked it. We won’t kid you: we’re not barbecue sauce connoisseurs. BUT: It’s gluten-free BBQ sauce. It’s not too sweet. It looks, smells and tastes like barbecue sauce. It’s got a tangy savory garlicky flavor. If you find that you have a hankering for some meat with BBQ sauce, this is an excellent choice. We really loved the chicken we made with it and totally recommend it!

We want to know: Do you have a favorite gluten-free barbecue sauce? Have you tried the other Trader Joe’s BBQ sauce? Do you get upset (like we do) that most of the Trader Joe’s asian cooking sauces aren’t gluten-free? Let us know in the comments!

Times we have visited: 1 (So your mileage may vary.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Gluten-Free Flours for Scone Follow-up

A while ago we posted a delicious gluten-free scone recipe developed by Gina at Gluten Free Gourmand. In that post, since Gina didn’t post a specific flour mix, we tried it out with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour (that’s a mouthful, huh?) We enjoyed the resulting scones, although it turned out that the Bob’s Red Mill flour mix is kind of bean-flavored and we needed to use less liquid than Gina’s recipe called for. At the end of the post, I speculated whether or not it would be a good idea to try the same recipe with Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix (click the link to see our review of this product for making gluten-free pancakes.)

Gluten-free scones

In the comments, we had a bunch of people agree with us that the Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour mix was too heavy on the bean flavor. We also heard from Sea at Book of Yum, who recommended that we avoid the Trader Joe’s mix.

So a few weekends later we tried the same scone recipe with the main flour mix recipe from Gluten-Free Baking Classics for the Bread Machine by Annalise Roberts. Since we reviewed the book, we’ve been very happy with the flavor and quality of the gluten-free breads we’ve been able to make (although they don’t rise as much as we would like.) The scones I made with that flour mix were PERFECT and AWESOME. They tasted delicious and they stored really well. Obviously, they were at their best straight out of the oven! I would share the gluten-free flour mix recipe, but I don’t think it would be honest of me to post it here. This book can be bought from Amazon, here.

But I still had the nagging question in the back of my mind: “What would these be like with the Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Pancake and Waffle mix?” So last weekend I decided to give it a try. Although with the Annalise Roberts gluten-free flour mix batch, I did the recipe exactly the same, this time Sienna requested that I leave out the lemon zest. Also, since the Trader Joe’s mix includes salt and baking powder, I omitted those. Otherwise it was the exact same recipe.

The Trader Joe’s mix scones were a disaster. First, the Trader Joe’s mix contains xanthan gum. This isn’t normally a bad thing, but in this case it was a problem. Xanthan gum imparts elasticity to gluten-free dough, which is good because the gluten in wheat flour is what makes regular dough elastic. The problem with xanthan gum is that if you get too much in a flour mix, it will absorb a lot of liquid and make a mix too runny. Then the baked result ends up being tough. So the dough ended up being too wet from the get-go. I kept adding more of the flour mix in, but it didn’t help. I finally gave up. Here’s how the scones made with the Trader Joe’s gluten-free mix ended up looking.

Trader Joe's Gluten-Free Mix Scones

So they sagged all over and then puffed up as they baked. I also had to bake them about twice as long as the recipe called for. The bad news is that they ended up way too sweet. They also did not keep well at all. Three days later they were kind of tough.

The good news is that they taste EXACTLY like sugar cookies and have the same texture. So yeah, if you really miss traditional white sugar cookies, here is a gluten-free, vegan recipe that is an excellent facsimile. I’m posting this half-jokingly, but I’m sure someone could take this recipe and make some awesome cookies with a little bit more experimentation.

1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Pancake and Waffle Mix
1 cups of the “cream” spooned from the top of a can of coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Some lemon zest if you like it in your sugar cookies.

Mix everything. Add more coconut milk if the mixture is too dry. Form the cookies and sprinkle sugar on top. If you like them sweet, you might try upping the sugar to 1/2 cup. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

And there you have it!